I wanted a 45 and that's what I set out to buy, but the deal the counter gal offered on the Smith and Wesson M&P 9mm Compact was too good to walk away from.
Included in the deal were 400 rounds of Winchester 115gr FMJ- basically target ammo, two magazines, and a holster for my left pawed purpose.
I have owned a M&P Shield in 40 for a while. It's my go-to for concealed carry. It's slim construction and short stature is super easy to hide on my med-large frame. It packs sufficient punch, and is surprisingly accurate for a short barreled weapon. However, it isn't fully ambidextrous out of the box- and even purchasing the magazine release only gives you that for a left-hand conversion. I noticed right away the 9c has slide releases on both sides
. Thirty seconds after introducing the weapon to my home, I had a fully converted left handed weapon. Now I gotta train myself and break habits all lefties have when it comes to releasing the slide or locking it to the rear.
After years and years of military training- likely in excess of 100k rounds fired through a handgun, firing near perfect qualification courses because of that, and having absolute confidence in weapons handling, I still don't like two fingered grips all compacts and sub-compacts offer. Present me with a full size handgun and I can drill holes wherever you want them, but a two fingered grip? I might be able to plant a 5" group at 15 yards. Might. I guess all that training failed me- when everyone else was "squeezing toothpaste" (you know what I'm talking about if you've been there) I was gripping that thing like the handle of a yard rake or something. My ring and pinky finger like to get in on the action. This was evident on range day one.
At the range and firing from the magazines that came with the weapon, it took me two full 12 round magazines to start popping paper where I wanted. Part of it was familiarity with a new weapon, part of it was that I hadn't fired in quite some time, and in part those two fingers. However the weapon operated without flaw. Its action was tight and certain. The trigger requires some effort, NOT necessarily in the poundage associated with it, but in its travel distance. It requires certainty of action as you take what feels like a nautical mile out of the slack. Unlike the Shield, which has a trigger mechanism I never loved because there is no certain 'wall' you encounter just before a crisp break, it expectantly just falls after a certain travel, there IS a 'wall' on the 9c. It's deep in the travel, but it's there- and it's crisp enough to build a muscle memory of 'just how much pressure to break through is this gonna take?'.
Still, the 9c lacked something.
I set off to find magazines, which I found @ cheaperthandirt.com. Full size mags for the M&P- 17rnds. After scouring Amazon.com for about 20 seconds, I found X-grip extensions that slip over the magazine and fill the gap between the mag's floor plate and handguns grip. All were reasonably priced. Guess what? My great big paws can now rest all three fingers around that thing, with the ever present straight trigger finger on it's perch under the slide release. I dig it. The paper didn't dig it. At all. I can now drill a magazine (17+1 rounds) into a 2~2.5" ragged hole @ 15 yards. Those two fingers make a big deal for me for some reason...
Concealing the weapon is complicated with the extended magazine. I fear it will print for anyone looking. So far I've used a inside the belt holster in every conceivable position, but seem to be settling at 11 o'clock. I also have a waste band- which pushed high around the bottom of the rib cage does a good job of concealing but complicates retrieval. Of course, come winter concealing won't be a problem like it is in the warm months. This is just the here and now I speak to.
I LOVE the fact the weapon is fully convertible to left handed right out of the box. However, I find myself indexing with the non-shooting hand (which requires the shooting hand handing it over- a no-no) out of habit. I find myself reaching over the rail, as well for the same purpose. It will take some time to break these habits. Soon, though, I'll be enjoying the design you right handed folks have been enjoying all your lives.
The 9mm is fine for self defense. Some of the ammo available offers ballistics nearing that of it's heavier kin folk, and it is a LOT cheaper to fire than any of it's cousins. I think it will suffice.
If there is any interest in this topic, I'll come back and re-evaluate this review after several thousand rounds. As of right now, though, I'm happy with the weapon. I'm thinking that girl behind the counter knows what she was talking about.